Casting “Shade” on the FIRE Movement

                    

Is it just me, or does it seem like the FIRE movement has been “taking fire” from snipers a lot lately? In listening to the Stacking Benjamin’s podcast this morning on the way to work, they talked about a tweet-storm that was created when Tracey Alloway tweetedOne thing I’ve often wondered- does the financial independence/retire early movement (#FIREmovement) survive the eventual end of the current bull market? The idea of pouring all your money into $VTSAX and living off it for the rest of your life feels like such a bull market thing

Jason Zweig of the Wall Street Journal chiming in with immediately followed this “No, because the fintech companies paying thousands of dollars a month in poorly disclosed affiliate marketing fees to all those “independent” FIRE bloggers will run out of VC cash in a bear market.”

Ouch! The comments and tweets from there came fast and furious, with folks defending and attacking the FIRE movement. Apparently, the tweets succeeded in agitating many folks (maybe the tweet author’s intent) and got the conversation moving again.

It just seems to me that the FIRE movement has been taking many hits recently, partially due, IMO, to the release of the movie “Playing with FIRE.” The ideas of financial independence are starting to pop up, and the result is that it is being both castigated and explored in some depth.

The general consensus on the Stacking Benjamin’s show was that the tweets didn’t really represent the FIRE movement accurately, but also noted that many folks in the movement hadn’t really dealt with a serious market correction (2008-2009) where 50% of their investments drop. The panel noted that this will affect some FIRE people (the ones who didn’t really embraced the concepts), but the ones who are actually following the ideas will probably continue to push on and readjust their end dates while continuing to save towards their goal.

I think that many of the anti-FIRE folks use a “straw-man” argument where they place the FIRE people as checking out of society, sitting on a beach, and sipping mixed drinks. They are going to just sit there for 50-60 years and not do anything else. I do not know about you, but this does not seem to match what I have seen from people in the FIRE world. I see folks that are “type A” and always busy, so once they hit FI, they just keep going. They work in less lucrative but more enjoyable fields, either volunteer their time, or find other activities to keep them busy. My bet is after a couple of years, even those who are taking a break will re-enter the market. So I do not see as much of an issue as the “anti-FIRE” folks.

I guess we will see when we hit our next market downturn. I am betting on 2021 for a dip, but nothing like the 50% drop in 2008-2009. However, my plan would be to just “stick with the plan” in that case.

I hope your FIRE plans include the potential for a market correction, and that they will still work out for you.

Mr. 39 Months

2 thoughts on “Casting “Shade” on the FIRE Movement”

  1. I won’t bet on timing of any correction. Could be happening right now or could happen in 5 years. Either way, it’s not going to change my strategies. I’ll plan on working for 5-7 years past my FI date partly because I enjoy my job and partly because it negates any sequence of return risk.

    1. I concur. Trying to “time the market” is a suckers bet. Like you, as long as I enjoy the work, I’ll keep working past my FIRE date. Glad to see that I’m not alone in the thought process.

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